Since Swing has so many different styles (eg West Coast, East Coast, Savoy, Hollywood, Texas Push, Hustle, Balboa, DC Hand Dancing, Bop, Jive, Rock N Roll, etc.), you often find many differences as a result of what is popular on a regional level. I know you said "East Coast Swing", but still, you are going to see some influence on East Coast from the other swing dances that people are practicing.
I think the biggest separation I've observed is between Lindy Hoppers and Ballroom Dancers. In the past, Lindy Hoppers often learned and practiced outside of the studio. Nowadays, it seems that Lindy Hoppers in the studios more and more.
Also, there are differences in East Coast Swing from one studio to another, because they often teach different steps.
There's also a difference as far as the emphasis on body action and technique. For social dancing the only real questions are "does it work?" & "can I do it without injuring anyone (either myself, my partner, or others)?". Ballroom EC involves an emphasis on the foot, leg, and body actions that make it Ballroom.
Good points, Salsa Guy.
I will defend Lindy (especially Hollywood) by saying there is a good deal of technique involved relating to footwork and partnership. On the other hand, there certainly is strong emphasis on technique in Ballroom Swing. For example, the triple step in Ballroom East Coast often uses a "together and move" action, which is not seen in Lindy. Also, the bending and straightening of the knees and resultant hip action is more of an "Ballroom thing".
I guess I should have been more specific – I meant that there is a far greater emphasis on ballroom technique…which actually leads me to expand on the issue:
Any dancing, when done well at least, involves technique. Good dancing is good dancing, no matter the form and, to be "good dancing" in the first place, requires appropriate technique. One can not turn or spin well, for instance, if one doesn't stay on axis...and this is true regardless of if one is doing ballroom, or lindy, or salsa, or, jazz, or ballet, or..............
At the same time, however, good "dancing" is not, synonymous with universal mastery! A good (ballroom) mambo dancer is not (necessarily) even a competent social/street/club-style salsa dancer (and vice versa) nor is an excellent EC swing dancer (ballroom) even a competent lindy dancer (and, again, vice versa). Each, to the very extent to which they are good dancers certainly involves a strong element of technique but which technique(s) remain(s) at issue. Most social dance technique is "reducible" to efficiency and function (since its all about actually doing the dancing) whereas ballroom technique heavily recruits historically emergent paradigms of what dancing “ought” to be and “ought” to look like. Also – at an even more basic level of distinction but also related to this “philosophical’ variance – most social dancing relies on an “away” connection while ballroom (at least in its competitive form) relies on a “towards” connection.
I think there is an assumption that Swing Dancing is a dance form and ECS, Lindy Hop, and West Coast are styles....
This is inaccuarate. Swing Dancing is a genre... the equivelant of saying Latin Dancing. East Coast, West Coast, Lindy Hop are different forms of dance, using differing rules, assumptions, technique.
As to the question of what are the differences between ECS in the ballroom style and club style... they are numerous, mostly because there is not just two styels. Both club and ballroom ECS have similar thigns that cause deviation. If learned in a different chain or franchise or learned and danced in a differnt club/bar there will be definite differences. There will be regional differences and of course if either the ballroom or club dancer competes they will often tend to develop a number of stylistic similarities to other competing dnacers.
Generally, Ballroom dancers are more upright, and use an uprightbounce or "puilse". The movements are usually controlled the footwork relatively small (kept primarily inline with the hips). It will often times incoroporate a touch of hip motion (classified as rhythm along with the latin dancers here in the US).
Generally club styles, will have more of a rocking motion side to side, in a relxed slightly bent posture. The footwork tends to be either reduced tot he point of shuffling or exxagerated to kicks. Hip motion is almost non-existant but torso movement will often be exxagerated to the point ofbending or creasing at the waist.
Technique is the biggest difference between the two styles. Ballroom uses suggestive body leads, more of a type of signal than causing the follower to be moved by the lead. Club style tends to be mostly arm movement as lead either as a signal (when I lift my arm you are supposed to turn) to a cranking, pushing or pulling with the arm forcing the follow into the move.
These of course are ALL generalizations. You will find places were what I described as ballroom traits are being done by club dancers and vice versa.
Remind me not to attend this club!
When you say club style, that is also generalizing, because there are more types of clubs than there are types of swing. Also, wouldn't you say there are some excellent Lindy Hoppers that dance at clubs? (and the lead is NOT forceful?).
One time I saw the #2 amateur American Rhythm couple walk into a swing club. They watched everybody for a while and talked. Nobody knew who they were. Finally, they went out on the dance floor and tried to dance their routine and there was no room, nor was anybody paying attention. With there "together and move action" and good postures they really looked uptight. I never saw them in the club again.
Lindy Hop and East Coast Swing are two different dances.When I say club style I am refering specifically to the subject of the thread, Club Style East Coast Swing. Most lindy hop today would be what we tend to think as "club style". While ballroom studios have been teaching lindy hop to varying degrees for years the vast majority of todays lindy hoppers learn from non-ballroom dancers.
I freely admitted that what I was saying were generalizations... but there is certainly some truth to it. ECS does not have to be forceful nor does it have to be signals. You can use full body leads with no appreciable force... in my personal experience club dancers who do ECS long enough to get this good tend to transition into other more rhythmically complicated dances such as West Coast and Lindy Hop. Not always the case... but certainly held up by an overwhelming amount of empirical evidence I've gathered.
I learned swing "street style" first then learned from a pro-latin dancer. Everything seemed primarly the same when it came to basic body movements. However, it seemed to me that ballroom is very bouncy and you must maintain a certain posture. The legs have to be bent at specific times. (International Ballroom I believe you mast step onto a straight leg) Street swing is more about getingt low down, bending at the waist and knees. I used to argue with my teacher on occasion when we'd all go out to dance because I'd always revert back to the street style. That's how I was taught anyway. Hope it helps.
In the "street" style or vernacular your legs should almost never be straight. Western and Central Africans, bent joints, particularly the knees and spine represented life energy, while straightened ones epitomize rigidty and death.